D’Shawn Schwartz the key difference maker for CU Buffs basketball

Junior from Colorado Springs looks to build on strong finish

D’Shawn Schwartz is going to have to watch where he is spotting up a little more carefully. Other than that, don’t expect a slight rules change to alter how Colorado’s junior guard goes about his job this basketball season.

Widely regarded as perhaps the biggest X-factor for a team harboring Pac-12 Conference championship and NCAA Tournament aspirations, Schwartz will find space a little more cramped in the corners, where he typically sets up in the Buffaloes’ half-court sets. Despite a somewhat surprising drop in his 3-point efficiency a year ago, Schwartz nonetheless boasted the look of a player starting to put it all together by the time the Buffs’ season ended in the quarterfinals of the NIT.

Cliff Grassmick/Staff photographer
Colorado’s D’Shawn Schwartz ranked fourth on the team in scoring at 9.2 points per game.

For Schwartz, one of his biggest adjustments this season will be the tight corners created by the NCAA’s decision to move the 3-point line to the international distance of 22 feet, 1.75 inches. Other than that, the Colorado Springs native expects his junior season to be business as usual…and perhaps more so.

“I don’t really see any issues or anything about it. Guys with big feet are going to have a little bit of trouble in the corner,” Schwartz said. “It might help or hurt. I don’t really look at it as anything. It’s just there. You’ve got to be a little more conscious of it. Wherever the line is, that’s where I’m going to be at.”

Schwartz’s 3-point percentage dipped to .313 after he posted a .383 mark as a freshman, though he attempted significantly more 3-point shots last year (131) than he did as a rookie (47).

However, while Schwartz struggled to find the range from the arc, the versatile, 6-foot-7 wing player discovered other ways to contribute. Schwartz ranked fourth on the team in scoring at 9.2 points per game, but averaged 12 points over the season’s final 10 games. Schwartz also was able to make better use of his size and athleticism to score around the basket, finishing with a .436 overall field goal percentage that was a significant jump from his .422 mark as a freshman.

Schwartz’s newfound scoring versatility was on display in the final two games last year, as he went a combined 1-for-9 on 3-pointers in NIT matchups against Norfolk State and Texas. Yet Schwartz still managed to score in double figures in each game by going 8-for-12 on 2-pointers. CU point guard McKinley Wright already has lauded his classmate as a player who is “going to be huge for us this year for us to go where we want to go,” and head coach Tad Boyle also has expressed confidence that Schwartz’s impressive offseason work will lead to another step forward for the Colorado native.

“He has had as good an offseason as anyone in the program. He’s physically a lot stronger and bigger,” Boyle said. “Just the natural maturation obviously, the work he’s put in with (strength coach Steve) Englehart in the weight room. But he’s also really worked on his shooting. When we look at all our shots we took in the preseason in the workouts, he was by far our best in terms of overall shooting. He’s playing with a high degree of confidence right now. I think he’s going to be a guy now…McKinley and Tyler (Bey) obviously being first team all-league guys, we know what they’re capable of and we know what we expect from them. I think D’Shawn really has the ability to step his game up and be that third option, if you will. Defensively, offensively, he’s playing with a lot of confidence.”